17 Pets You Can Legally Own That Look Like Dragons
Real life dragons
It's no longer a fantastical dream to buy your own pet dragon. Thanks to the exotic pet trade, there are many species that are dragon lookalikes that can be kept as pets. Mythical dragons differ from each other; some have wings, horns, spikes, or plated backs. Oriental dragons are more snake-bodied with whiskers and mammal-like hair, while Western dragons are more reptilian or dinosaur-like. Other dragon designs are unique, like that of Toothless from the popular film How to Train Your Dragon. Most existing 'dragons' in the pet trade are reptiles.
All reptiles require specific temperature, lighting, and humidity gradients. It's perfectly OK to be attracted to the idea of getting a reptile or other pet for its ornamental value, but be sure to research them sufficiently, especially if you are new to exotics. New owners should also ensure their pets are captive-bred because wild specimens might have parasites, be harder to feed, and stress easily. Some of the pets here are rarer than others and might require some experience, but others are good for beginners who've done their homework.
1. Chinese Water Dragon
As the name implies, the Chinese water dragon bears a slight resemblance to the mythical creatures with its pointed spikes. You can also guess from the name that these lizards like water, so they require a large enclosure that they can both climb and swim in. You may have seen these lizards sold in chain pet stores like Petco, and they often have damage on their snout from constant rubbing. This happens because they don't understand that they can't pass through glass. Larger environments for them can help.
2. Crested Gecko
The neat thing about crested geckos besides their stunning appearance and dragon-like crested head is that they are one of the few pet lizard species that don't need to eat live insects. Instead, they can eat prepared powdered diets and insects are only offered if the owner prefers to provide supplementation. Crested geckos are a small lizard that can live in more reasonably-sized aquariums decorated with live plants.They thrive when the conditions in captivity suit their needs.
3. Dragon Eel
The Hawaiian dragon moray eel is an expensive fish typically priced around $1000, but many hobbyists believe they are well worth the money. They have beautiful patterns and two 'horns' on their head. They tend to stick their head out of caves with their mouth hanging open, showing off their pointy dragon-life dentition. Dragon morays, like most eels, are sizeable and require a somewhat large aquarium. They are also hard to feed in captivity so they are not for beginners.
4. Draco lizards
A dragon with wings! These small lizards are actually gliders akin to flying squirrels, not flyers, but they are extremely unique with their colorful 'wings'. Unfortunately, they are not a pet for those who are new to keeping reptiles because they are shy, require an aboreal enclosure, and might be difficult to feed. They are also not commonly available, so locating one can take some investigation.
5. Crocodile Skink
These lizards might have 'crocodile' in their name but they are very dragon-like in appearance. They have vivid orange rings around their eyes for a very distinctive look. They are also relatively easy to keep, with a 20-25 gallon aquarium being an adequate size for a pair.
6. Green Basilisk
The basilisk is a legendary reptile said to be king of serpents and posessing the power to cause death with a single glance. It's also a reptile known as the 'Jesus lizard' for its ability to run on water. Its stunning features with its frills and crest gives it the appearance of something mythological. They are flighty animals that don't like to be handled much but are suitable pets for owners that can maintain their environment properly.
7. Mexican Alligator Lizard
These plated lizards come in vibrant blue and green colors. In the wild, they inhabit cloud forests in Central and South America. These are aboreal lizards that are sensitive if their environmental elements aren't maintained perfectly, so they have a moderate level of care difficulty.
8. Jackson's chameleon
This pet lizard has the horns of a dragon. In addition, they are fascinating; their eyes can rotate 360 degrees and their body type is specifically adapted for tree-living. They have a prehensile tail, unusual appendages, and a famous long and sticky tongue to catch their prey. Chameleons are often recommended for owners with some experience, but a first time owner can own one successfully as long as they research and follow the right care advice.
9. Indonesian Forest Dragon
These lizards are members of the agamid family and are impressive-looking. They are medium-sized animals that will need a somewhat larger and tall enclosure. They have omnivorous dietary needs, doing particularly well with a varied diet. These lizards aren't as popular as others, but they can be found on various reptile websites with classified ads, along with other uncommon species.
10. Bearded Dragon
This extremely popular pet with 'dragon' in its name is a great choice for someone just getting into reptile keeping. They are probably one of the easiest lizards to handle. These lizards can even make good pets for responsible children. They are the perfect choice for someone who wants a pet 'dragon' or 'dinosaur'. Some bearded dragons can be trained to accept non-live insects. They are omnivorous, so they will also eat plant material.
Axolotls can have the appearance of a Chinese dragon with their long gills extending around their head. They also bear a very strong resemblance to the main character in How To Train Your Dragon. These unique animals are actually amphibians, and in the pet trade they are domesticated versions of a critically endangered wild species. They are, however, prolific in captivity, and relatively easy to keep. They actually prefer cooler water, so no need for a heater. However, keeping them at the desired 66 degrees F can be a challenge in the summer.
12. Dragonface Pipefish
Pipefish are amazing, however they are not for beginners to marine fish keeping. They have a long body, giving the appearance of a dragon straight out of a film by Studio Ghibli. They require a species-specific tank with low flow and a steady supply of live food unless they can be converted to frozen. Pipefish are often kept with seahorses, which can also resemble dragons to a degree. Especially the weedy sea dragon, a species which unfortunately cannot be kept by private hobbyists.
13. Green Iguana
The green iguana is a very large lizard. They were the stars of many monster movies in the earlier days of cinema, and with good reason. Iguanas, and especially males, exhibit impressive spines in adulthood. As you can guess, their cage should be large...at least 6'x6' feet, but many owners recommend to go larger. Iguanas are strictly herbivorous, and they should have a salad prepared for them daily. They are a pet for the experienced or committed reptile owner.
14. Armadillo Lizard
Armadillo lizards, like their name suggests, can curl up into a ball just like an armadillo. Their pointed plates can give them a dragon-like appearance, and they have relatively simple care relative to other reptiles. This species in unique because they are social and prefer being around other armadillo lizards, so they can be kept in groups which might be better for their welfare overall.
15. Horned Lizard
Very dragony in the face, these lizards have the bizarre ability to shoot blood from their eyes as a defense mechanism. These lizards are difficult to care for and are for experienced keepers only. They feed on mostly ants.
16. Sailfin Dragon
Perhaps these animals more closely resemble dimetrodons (an animal people mistakenly think is a dinosaur), but they are also very mythological-looking. They are the largest member of the agamid family, and are very impressive lizards to keep. They are less common in captivity and can grow up to 3 feet long. They are for keepers with some experience.
17. Frilled Dragon
Frilled dragons have a distinctive defense mechanism. They expand an impressively large membrane around their head to hopefully bluff away potential predators. Just like with puffer fish, you might be tempted to see this in person but it does result from the animal being stressed, so this response shouldn't be induced. What they should have is a large enclosure to support their relatively high activity level.
Do you want any of the 'dragons' on this list?
Questions & Answers
Where can I purchase an armadillo lizard?
Try looking through classified ad such as Fauna Classified, Kingsnake.com, etc. You will likely need to have one shipped.
Where can I buy a skink?
Some pet stores carry them, but not stores like Petco and Petsmart. You can check classifieds like FuanaClassifieds and kingsnake.com and get them shipped. Or you'll find them in reptile shows.